Saturday , 25 November 2017

THIS WEEKEND: Dogs and Austism Awareness in Montreal

James and Bella, High Fiving!

Dogs are our best friends.  They comfort us, they make us laugh, they enrich our lives.  Perhaps more so, for people who depend on them day to day.  Assistance dogs offer a unique kind of support that can literally change lives.

Susan is a Montrealer and mother of an autistic son.  James has been through many successful therapies for autism.  But getting older also meant reaching a plateau in terms of progress. Until this past December.  That’s when Bella, a specially-trained golden retriever came into their lives.  She’s from The Lions Foundation of  Canada Dog Guides – an organization that trains canines in 5 special programs: Canine Vision, Hearing Ear, and Special Skills, Seizure Response and Autism Assistance.

Susan saw improvements with her son in 2 weeks.

From Susan:  James has a longer attention span and is less reclusive – for the first time ever, he was able to sit through an entire movie while petting her.  He can sit and play a game with the family with her at his feet.  He spends more time talking with us and people on the block while walking her.  We had neighbors comment they didn’t know James could speak until Bella came along!  When shopping, he is not taking off.  He is there with Bella – more engaged, attentive, and busy with her.  We have even noticed a dramatic change in his speech – his stuttering is gone.  His speech is so clear now – there is no speech therapy that has been as effective!  We love having James around and interacting more with us and the family.  He is more calm, which helps so much with speech, attention and socialization.

Bella is trained to keep James safe.  She gives him a “heads up” when something doesn’t look right – making him more present and aware of his surroundings.

Some other benefits of Autism Dogs include:

  • Increase safety for the child
  • Passively teaches the child responsibility
  • Positive changes in behavior, lowers aggression/frustration levels with the child
  • Comforts when upset
  • Independence for children – and also for the parents.
  • Dog reduces the stress associated with interacting with other people and helps the child participate in social activities

And for those who are curious, yes, Bella definitely gets her “out of jacket” play times. Working dogs love working, but they need their ‘me’ time too.   Bella regularly goes to the dog park to maintain that balance between work and play. Like we all should.  🙂

The Purina Walk

Susan says Bella has been incredible therapy, not only for James, but for her entire family.  As a token of thanks, she is organizing a first ever event in Montreal:  the Purina Walk for Dog Guides.  It’s A 5 Km family (and canine) walk over the mountain later this month. Here are the details:

WHEN: Sunday May 29th: 10AM – noon (registration at 9)
WHERE: Montreal – Mount Royal Park ( Beaver lake )

Participants can register on line at or on that day with their pledges. No registration fee.  Prizes for sums raised.  And contests after the walk, which include:

  1. Dog-owner look-a-like:  first prize photo session with Serge Rivard
  2. Best Trick:  year subscription to modern dog magazine
  3. “Doga” a yoga pose with your dog:  first prize is a one moth pass to Bikram yoga

Thanks to generous sponsors, 100% of the funds raised go directly to providing a dog to people with disabilities at no cost.

If you can’t make it, but would like to donate to this awesome cause, you can donate directly to Susan’s pledge page, by clicking here.



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